Seeing the World through New Eyes
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By Sarah Reinhard
It was a day of weather that only Spring can deliver - hot sun, without the oppression of summer humidity; balmy wind, without the hindrance of looming thunderstorms; full day ahead of more of the same, without being the middle of the week. We were driving into the nearby Teeny-Tiny Town for something or other, and my husband remembered - as he always does - to slow down at a particular spot by a favorite cow pasture. There, close enough that we could see details, was a brown and white cow, lying down by a blown-over tree, with a shiny bundle of something behind her.
"She's having a calf," Bob remarked, slowing down a little more.
"She's having a calf?" I screeched, hands a-flutter and eyes a-goggle. "She's having a calf!"
There, in broad daylight, in the middle of a five-acre field, filled with other cows and calves and fallen trees, was a cow doing what cows do in the spring: having a calf. It is the most common and everyday thing in the world. It happens all the time.
And I all but made him stop the car so I could get out and walk over there closer to the fence.
The first time - and only other time - I have seen a calf born was at the state fair a few years ago. I was pregnant with my first "calf," and there was a huge Holstein cow, in the middle of a tent and surrounded by gawking onlookers, doing her job and delivering her baby. She pushed and strained and the workers (vets?) there to help held the cow's head and guided the calf's feet. I couldn't take my eyes off that Jello-covered bundle coming out so unceremoniously. It felt disrespectful to stare, but I was unable to help myself. Maybe those friendly animals from the stable long ago would understand how I felt. There it is, something amazing unfolding, and you're entranced. She might only have been a cow, and it might only have been a calf, but here was the miracle of birth playing out right in front of me. It was a humble place - the state fair in front of an audience - and there was really nothing special about it. It reminded me of another time and place, a birth that changed the world forever.
After the blob of calf landed, the cow immediately turned and started licking it, to get its circulation going. After three or four good swipes (cows have big tongues!), the little guy's head was up and bobbing. In another twenty or so, it was struggling to its feet, and, after sticking with it for a while, it made it up, and knew right where to go.
Holsteins don't usually get to nurse their babies - the whole reason for having them bred is to give all of us our milk (they're the top breed for milk production), so their babies are bottle- or bucket-fed. I can't remember if the calf at the state fair was an exception, but the calf in the field was a beef breed, and when we drove back by, on our way out of Teeny-Tiny Town, he was perked up and struggling to his feet. There's no doubt he was going to get to nurse and enjoy all the benefits of mom close by.
Driving by a few days later, I slowed down to see the early-evening sun splashed on the fields, and the handful of brand-new calves basking in it. If you're a calf, there are generally two ways you bask in the sun: you lay down, flat on your side, and soak it up so that you can grow-grow-grow, or you leap into the air, in a series of moves that would make Cirque de Soleil jealous. That evening, the calves were leaping, and I felt myself leap in response. Just as it's impossible not to smile back at a young child, I find it hard not to catch the virus of spring joy that emanates from a field of young calves (or lambs). In their abandonment, I see how I want to be when I come to Jesus; in their trusting soaking-up-the-sun, I see an example of how I should soak up the Son in my life.
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Sarah Reinhard - Author, 555 unlisted
farm life, reflections, everyday life
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